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Alopecia and Hair Loss: When Should I See a Doctor?

Certain kinds of hair loss should be watched with a keen eye. There is a big difference between a few strands of hair that fall out each day and more hair being lost than hairs growing in. If you are experiencing the latter, a dermatologist from Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute will need to get involved. They can help diagnose the different kinds of alopecia and provide prevention and treatment ideas.


Causes and Symptoms of Alopecia

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that causes you to lose hair and often leaves little bald spots on your head. Our hair is made up of mostly protein. When our body does not have enough protein, the hairs enter the resting phase. This causes us to lose hair and hair to become brittle and fall out. Alopecia is both hereditary and hormonal. It affects both males and females and can happen at any age.

There are many causes related to alopecia. Causes include severe or chronic illness, thyroid disease, low-protein diets, low iron levels and improper hair care. It is also common after childbirth. If hair loss occurs, the hairs may enter a resting phase and are lost without immediate replacement. It could last up to nine months but should resolve itself without treatment. This also may be the case if you have a chronic illness.

Alopecia occurs when hair follicles are attacked by your own body, causing clumps of hair to fall out. While rare, there is a potential to lose all the hair on your head and/or on your entire body. Males are more likely to lose all their hair while women mostly experience thinning. Sometimes the hair grows back for good and other times it grows back and then falls out again shortly after. Unfortunately, alopecia is not curable, but can and should be treated by a dermatologist. During diagnosis, a skin biopsy may be performed and examined to properly diagnose the alopecia.


Alopecia Treatment

Treatment of alopecia can include a variety of options. One option is corticosteroids, but they can take a longer time to work. They can be given as an injection into the affected areas, in pill form or as an ointment. Another option is topical immunotherapy. If you have a severe case of alopecia, these chemicals are applied to the affected area to cause an allergic reaction. If it works, this will trigger hair growth, but also a rash. To see results it will need to be repeated more than once. A treatment you have likely heard of before is Rogaine. Rogaine is put directly on the scalp to increase hair growth and treat pattern baldness. It may take up to three months to see results. In between treatments or if treatments are not working, many opt to simply wear hats to cover up the hair loss and to protect the skin from the sun.

If you are experiencing signs of alopecia and are in the Bloomington, Illinois or surrounding area, contact us. A dermatologist from Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute can diagnose the alopecia and provide you with the proper treatment.

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